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Collegiate golf

Anderson reflects on first season cut short by coronavirus

Despite official Seminole year being over, former Windjammer standout still hits links in Sunshine State
By Zack Miller | Apr 07, 2020
Courtesy of: Florida State University Cole Anderson.

Tallahassee, Fla. — It was not the way Cole Anderson of Camden wanted to end his first collegiate golf season, but COVID-19 (coronavirus) caught the world off guard.

Anderson, a redshirt-freshman on the Division I Florida State University men's golf team, saw his campaign end on March 3 after the Cabo Collegiate tournament in Mexico, and now the 19-year-old — as well as the rest of The Sunshine State — is under a "stay-at-home" order until April 30.

"I’ve obviously really enjoyed [my first season]," said Anderson. "It’s fun playing this level of competition each week. Even our events that we wouldn't consider our strongest fields we play in, there’s a lot of really high level golf being played. It’s really good in that sense, and the competitive juices never stop flowing."

Looking in mirror

Anderson, a former three-time state Class A high school individual champion (and one time runner-up) as well as the defending Maine Amateur champion, competed in seven college tournaments between the fall and spring, before the season was abruptly cancelled due to the global pandemic.

The men's golf team had fall and spring seasons, as the fall schedule started on Sept. 13 and ended on Nov. 3 — which you can read about here — while the spring portion began on Feb. 10 and lasted less than a month.

"I have mixed opinions on how I played," said Anderson. "I think I did some things well and made some improvements. I struggled a little bit with getting a full tournament strung together. I’d show flashes here and there, and I kind of always had that one day that kept me out of the top-10. I’m trying to see [the] big picture, and I’ve got a lot of time left here, to be patient and get fractionally better and go from there.

"It’s definitely difficult because the golf courses are harder, and it exposes the areas you need to work on. Sometimes in junior golf you can play away from certain things you weren’t great at, but with the golf courses we are playing if you have a big weakness it will definitely jump out. I’m trying to stay patient with things. With this time we’ve got now we’ve got a ways before we are back and playing [competitively] again so it’s a good opportunity."

Some of Anderson's most significant takeaways from his first season include "recognizing the physical talent is there" and he has "the ability to compete at a very high level."

"It’s come down to the quality of practice that I’m doing," Anderson said. "It’s more practicing smarter now, focusing on the right things, staying really committed to a specific process. I’m not really making a ton of changes, it’s more of trying to get everything repeatable and predictable.

"Also working on mental approaches to competitions as well, and getting as mentally strong as possible. That’s the biggest separator in collegiate golf, because everyone knows how to play, and there’s not a huge difference in skill from player to player, it’s more how they go about things and how they prepare."

The finance major's best finish came on his home course in the Seminole Intercollegiate on Feb. 22-23, when Anderson finished tied for ninth with a 1-over par 217 among a field of 75, which was one of the "highlights" of his first year.

"That was fun because my whole family came down, so that was pretty cool to have the whole family here for that," said Anderson. "[The team was] competing, but ended up tied for fourth."

In his three other tournaments from Nov. 3 through March 3, Anderson finished tied for 61st with a 2-over 74 on Nov. 3 at the White Sands Intercollegiate on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, tied for 40th with a 1-over 217 on Feb. 11 at the Mobile Sports Authority Intercollegiate in Mobile, Ala. and tied for 42nd with a 5-over 218 on March 3 at the Cabo Collegiate in Los Cabos, Mexico.

The travel and team aspect also stood out to him throughout his opening season.

"I never really played on a team where, one, it’s not like high school golf where you are playing multiple day events so the team aspect is a lot of fun, and just being able to go to places we get to go," said Anderson. "We play a pretty incredible schedule, and see a lot of neat places and play a lot of great golf courses, so as a whole the experience has been everything I could have asked for so far."

Coronavirus upheaval

The month of March saw most of the world come to a stand-still, which left Anderson's season in ruins on the cusp of his next event.

"We were about to leave for The Floridian, which was our next event, then we heard rumblings that it was going to be cancelled," Anderson said. "I had a cold that day, went and took a nap, woke up, and everything was cancelled. The whole world kind of stopped spinning. That was a weird thing to digest, and figure out what is going on on our end."

Despite the season's cancellation, the team still expected to practice and meet together, but those plans were altered as well.

"We originally were told we were going to have practices and workouts, but no traveling, and then after a week we went into full facility shutdown," he said. "Because the golf courses are run by a private management firm, we’re still considered members out there and [we can] go play the course.

"As far as our private driving range and team building room, everything is locked. So we can play golf on our own time now, but other than on the phone, we don’t have any interaction with the coaches. It’s kind of an extended summer break at this point, which is obviously unfortunate, but it’s pretty unprecedented times in the world of sports and everyone is trying to figure it out as we go."

Now, Anderson's days are comprised of home confinement, and, of course, the sport he went down south to play, since golf courses are deemed an "essential business" during the lockdown.

"We play 18 holes most afternoons," said Anderson. "We aren’t doing a ton of practice per se, but I think we’d all be pretty confident in saying we could go and compete in a golf tournament right now because we feel we are playing so much that our game hasn’t really left at all. We just don’t have the opportunity."

Despite losing time playing the country's best collegiate golfers the National Collegiate Athletic Association approved an additional year of eligibility for spring athletes, but, as Anderson said, "it comes down to conferences and schools."

"I don’t see any issue because our president is a huge supporter of the athletic program," he said. "I had a conversation with our athletic director a week or two ago and he was a big supporter of [the extra year]. We’ve got a lot of athletes where losing the spring [season] directly affected their careers if they were looking to play professionally, and they needed a solid spring, but didn’t get to do that. We are definitely hoping, but haven’t heard anything yet."

The extra year of eligibility does not affect Anderson as much as the older players on the team, since the Camden native is one year into his four allotted by the NCAA.

"I already had an extended situation because I redshirted, so I would be here for four-and-a-half years anyways, and I’m not exactly sure if I’m planning on using five-and-a-half years here," said Anderson. "It is nice to know if you did need it, and wanted to do it, and go to grad school or something, you could still compete."

Summer plans

With summer right around the corner, Anderson is "going to try to get up to Maine at some point," except he does not "know when it will be."

"I think my window to get myself home safely was a week ago, so I think I have to ride this out until [coronavirus infection] numbers start dropping," he said. "As much as I want to be with my family right now the last thing I want to do is somehow pick [the virus] up along the way and bring it back there. I’m going to hold out here until we get the go-ahead to travel."

Despite golf courses being deemed an essential business in Florida, the same can not be said in Maine, where they are closed, deemed "non-essential" for at least the month of April, which may affect Anderson's summer schedule.

"It will be interesting to see what my summer schedule will look like," he said. "I have it planned out, but with all these cancellations I don’t know when we are going to be able to play tournaments again. That will probably have some bearing on it as well.

"[Golf courses in Maine being closed] was part of the decision [to stay in Florida] also. I talked to my parents about a week ago, and once I heard golf courses were considered non-essential [businesses] up there, and there wasn’t an opportunity to go and walk nine holes somewhere by myself, it almost makes more sense for me to stay here and stay somewhat fresh, in case [starting up] happens [suddenly]. If I’ve been somewhere where I haven’t been able to play golf for a month that’s not exactly ideal.

"If I end up back and not playing any amateur events yet, I would definitely consider getting a job, but I don’t know where. I’m a college student, so I can definitely use the money, so we’ll see. I think I’m just taking it day-by-day and what we are doing, because we’ve all seen how this can change in a heartbeat."

Cole Anderson. (Courtesy of: Florida State University)
Cole Anderson. (Courtesy of: Florida State University)
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Comments (1)
Posted by: Margaret McCrea | Apr 07, 2020 17:00

Great article and great "kid".....handsome devil, too:)

Good job Mr. and Mrs. Anderson!

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